Redemption salad (variable servings)

redemption.jpg

Shhh... I'll tell you a secret.

Sometimes, I eat too much bad food, especially when I'm stressed.

Okay, so that's not a secret at all, and in the grand scheme of things, it isn't even that bad. What's bad is my habit of making excuses for indulging, rationalizing extravagances I really don't want or need. 

Did the teacher in the room next to mine really need help finishing up the pizza from her girls' soccer team? Were those cookies in the cabinet really lonely, just waiting for me to eat them? It's easy to give in when I feel like I have too much to do and not enough time to do it.

But after a couple days of eating unhealthily, my body starts to crave vegetables. Just as I had been unable to stop thinking about salty, crispy snacks or sweet indulgences in previous days, I'm suddenly obsessed with thoughts of crunchy, deep green veggies. I know it sounds silly, but it's a mental white flag that tells me it's time to give it up and go back to eating sensibly, and that's the perfect time for what I call "redemption salad."

At first, I wanted to call this "penance salad," but that made it sound like some sort of punishment, and it really isn't. The Vegetarian Times calls it "crunchy green tahini salad," but no matter what you call it, it's simple, refreshing, nourishing, and filling. Before I made this recipe, I had never eaten raw kale (except in smoothies) but I was surprised to find how hearty and tasty it was. It sort of reminded me of what broccoli might taste like in leaf form. The almost-bitter taste of the kale is nicely offset by the sweet cranberries and cool mint leaves and carrots. The almonds lend a pleasing crunch, and the creamy dressing gives the salad just the right amount of richness.

For each salad, you will need:

  • several handfuls of washed, stemmed kale leaves, roughly chopped (maybe 2 cups or so)
  • a few mint leaves, torn or sliced
  • grated carrots
  • dried cranberries
  • toasted almonds
  • tahini-based salad dressing

Other suggested add-ins I didn't use myself:

  • roasted red potatoes
  • toasted pine nuts
  • orange segments
  • crumbled feta cheese

Steps:

  1. Throw everything together in a big bowl, toss to distribute the dressing evenly, and serve.

The original recipe includes steps for making homemade tahini dressing, but when I read the ingredients, I realized most of them were found in Annie's Goddess Dressing, which I already had at home. It's a creamy vegan dressing that's smooth and tangy, with hints of lemon, sesame, and garlic. It's a bit pricey, but I highly recommend the taste. It makes a great dip for raw veggies too.

I was pleasantly surprised that Bryan loved this salad as much as I did, considering he's not usually a fan of dark greens. It's a lovely dinner salad for dishing out after you've done a bit too much giving in.